The sight of beautiful blue and purple hues of a field of lavender under a perfect summer sky is one you will never forget. Take one whiff of this herb and your sense of smell will be forever tantalized and transformed by its sweet fragrance.
Lavender, a native to northern Africa and the mountainous regions of the Mediterranean, is not only highly regarded for its delicate good looks but also for its versatility and exquisite bouquet. Flowers from lavender have been used extensively in potpourris and dried flower arrangements to enhance our homes while lavender oil has its own special qualities. The fragrant oil has been incorporated into soaps, perfumes, household cleaners, and laundry detergent. In fact, the word lavender comes from the Latin work lavare which means “to wash.”
The process of obtaining lavender’s essential oil is not easy. The flowers are picked when in full bloom as they contain the maximum amount of esters. Steam distillation is used to produce the oil requiring 150 pounds of lavender to produce just one pound of pure lavender essential oil.
Lavender oil has been used over the centuries and is well-known for its potential medicinal use. Often used in spas, the oil has a host of health redeeming qualities ranging from anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antidepressant, antiseptic, antibacterial, and antimicrobial.
The oil has always exhibited a calming and relaxing allure and several studies have shown lavender oil to be of medicinal use from promoting hair growth, aiding in would healing, and improving restless leg syndrome in hemodialysis patients.
Here are other ways lavender oil can be used:
Relieves pain – The oil can be massaged onto sore or tense muscles, painful joints, sprains, and aching backs.
Treats skin disorders – Lavender oil appears to help form scar tissue which is necessary for healing wounds, cuts, and burns. Insect bites and itchy skin can find relief from the oil of lavender. Its natural anti-inflammatory property reduces itching, swelling, and redness.
Promotes healthy hair – Thinning hair may benefit from treatment with lavender oil by boosting hair growth by up to 44 percent after just seven months of treatment. In addition, it can help kill lice, lice eggs, and nits.
Boosts digestive health – Experience reduced stomach pain, indigestion, flatulence, vomiting, and diarrhea by using lavender oil. The oil stimulates the mobility of your intestine and stimulates the production of bile and gastric juices.
Relieve respiratory disorders – Respiratory problems such as coughing, throat infections, asthma, sinus congestion, bronchitis, and laryngitis may be relieved with lavender oil. Apply the oil directly on the throat, chest, or back or inhale it by steam inhalation or through a vaporizer.
Get a good night’s sleep – A 2015 study demonstrated that college students who wore a patch of lavender essential oil had better sleep quality, fewer sleep issues and woke feeling refreshed and calm compared to students who wore just a blank patch.
Enhances positive emotions – The pleasant odor of lavender oil has been found to correlate with changes in the autonomic nervous system inducing more pleasant and positive emotions amongs people. Individuals who smell lavender can experience more relaxation, decreased anxiety, have a better mood along with feelings of joy and comfort.
Safety of lavender oil
Natural oils like lavender can be one holistic method to use to treat and relieve several health maladies. But like anything, it is not always completely safe for anyone of any age to use.
Always use diluted lavender oil topically and not pure oil – applying pure lavender oil to the skin or an open wound could cause irritation. Dilute the oil with olive or coconut oil or simply dissolve it in water. At this time it is not recommended for children.
Keep lavender oil out of your eyes and mucous membranes. Wash out immediately with cold water. Those with sensitive skin should put a single drop of lavender oil on their arm to see if any reaction occurs as allergic reactions can happen in some people.
Pregnant women and nursing mothers are advised to avoid using the oil as it hasn’t been approved for these situations.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) warns to not use lavender oil if taking the following medications: Barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and chloral hydrate as the oil could increase the sedative effects causing extreme drowsiness.